Trends and sex differences in prescription opioid deaths in British Columbia, Canada

Inj Prev. 2016 Aug;22(4):288-90. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2015-041604. Epub 2015 Jul 20.


Increasing rates of prescription opioid-related death are well documented in Ontario (ON) but little is known about prescription opioid-related harms in other Canadian provinces. Using administrative mortality data from 2004 to 2013, we found that rates of prescription opioid-related death in British Columbia (BC) were higher but more stable than published rates for ON over the same period. Methadone was involved in approximately 25% of the prescription opioid-related deaths in BC. The majority of prescription opioid-related deaths among men and women were unintentional. Men had higher overall rates of prescription opioid-related deaths in BC; women had lower rates of prescription opioid-related deaths but a larger proportion of them were suicides. Efforts to reduce prescription opioid-related deaths must consider sex differences in patterns of prescription opioid use and associated harms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality*
  • Analgesics, Opioid*
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Drug Overdose / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / mortality*
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / mortality*
  • Prescription Drug Misuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*


  • Analgesics, Opioid